25 RB Statistics from 2020 (Fantasy Football)
The running back (RB) position is arguably one of the most replaceable positions in the National Football League. There are undoubtedly studs that help their team, but many teams are productive with mediocre talent. However, there is no doubt that running backs are king when it comes to fantasy football.
I am a huge believer in drafting running backs early and often in redraft leagues. When you hit on two top running backs, you have a great chance of making the fantasy playoffs. The RB position is relatively thin and top-heavy compared to the other skill positions. Furthermore, the other position groups are deeper (more replaceable). If you follow these concepts through, your starting roster will put up more total points if you hit on RBs and piece together the other position groups. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this article I wrote in the 2019 offseason: The Greatest Positional Values Over the Past Decade (Fantasy Football). Also, check out my other article from the 2019 offseason for context at the RB position (and others): The Best Fantasy Football Players of the Past Decade.
Alright, let’s get right to it. Here are my favorite statistics about fantasy running backs in 2020:
1. Three running backs scored 300+ fantasy points this season (Weeks 1- 17): Alvin Kamara (336), Derrick Henry (323.6), and Dalvin Cook (315.8). 2020 represents the second most amount of RBs to break the 300 point mark in the past six seasons: 2015 (0), 2016 (2), 2017 (1), 2018 (4), and 2019 (1). In a chaotic fantasy season, these three backs were worth their weight in gold and outscored all non-QBs in total fantasy points.
2. Only two running backs saw more than 100 targets: Alvin Kamara (107) and J.D. McKissic (102). They were also the only two running backs with 500+ receiving yards in 2020. By comparison, seven RBs did it in 2019.
3. Kamara had six games of 65+ receiving yards. Austin Ekeler (3) and J.D. McKissic (3) were the only other running backs with more than one such game.
4. Last Kamara stat… I think. Kamara & Dalvin Cook paced all backs with 11 games (each) with more than 16 fantasy points. Remember folks, consistency (or predictability) is as important as total production. to compare, Christian McCaffrey paced all RBs with 14(!) of those games in 2019.
5. The most efficient runners (min 70 attempts) were Aaron Jones (5.6 yards per carry), Nick Chubb (5.6 ypc), Miles Sanders (5.3 ypc), J.K. Dobbins (5.3), and Derrick Henry (5.2 ypc).
6. Nick Chubb went down in Week 4 against the Cowboys and it looked like a lost season. Despite missing four games, he was an absolute stud down the stretch as the RB5 from Week 10 on. He is the only RB in the modern era to run for 1,000+ yards and 9+ rush TDs in fewer than 13 games played. He recorded the highest yards per carry ever (5.6) for an RB with 1,000+ rush yards in fewer than 13 games.
7. Chubb had the highest elusive rating per Pro Football Focus by a wide margin. He led the NFL in Yards after Contact and had as many eluded tackles as Kenyan Drake and Miles Sanders…. COMBINED.
8. Derrick Henry rushed for a whopping 2,027 yards in 2020. Only seven other running backs have rushed for 2,000+ yards during the regular season: Adrian Peterson (2012), Chris Johnson (2009), Jamal Lewis (2003), Terrell Davis (1998), Barry Sanders (1997), Eric Dickerson (1984), and O.J. Simpson (1973).
9. Henry paced all running backs with 15 games with at least 15 carries. Dalvin Cook (12) and James Robinson (10) were the only others with 10+ such games. By comparison, Alvin Kamara only had three games this season with 15+ carries.
10. Only eight running backs rushed for 1,000+ yards in 2020: Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, Jonathan Taylor, Aaron Jones, David Montgomery, James Robinson, Nick Chubb, & Josh Jacobs. By comparison, 15 RBs did it in 2019.
11. Rookie Antonio Gibson was Mike “The Fantasy Hitman” Wright‘s guy from the beginning. And boy did he knock it out of the park! Gibson joins an exclusive list (Gale Sayers, Marcus Allen, Herschel Walker, and Maurice Jones-Drew) as the only rookie RBs with 11 rushing TDs or more on fewer than 180 carries. He beat up on weaker opponents scoring 8.76 more fantasy points against bottom-16 competition for an average of 18.45 per game.
12. Three RB eclipsed 40 points in a game this season: Alvin Kamara (Week 16 – 55 pts), Dalvin Cook (Week 8 – 48 pts), and Aaron Jones (Week 2 – 44 pts). Kamara’s 55 (FIFTY-FIVE!) points on championship weekend (Week 16) is the most fantasy points scored by ANY player since Jamaal Charles in Week 15 of the 2013 season.
13. Ezekiel Elliott had five games with 16+ fantasy points. That’s more than Aaron Jones, Josh Jacobs, Miles Sanders, or Austin Ekeler. Elliott also had five games with fewer than eight fantasy points. That’s the same as Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, James Robinson, Myles Gaskin, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Austin Ekeler…COMBINED. He didn’t quite have the long speed in 2020: 11.7 percent of his rushing yards came on “big runs” of 15+ yards. Only Frank Gore had a smaller percentage among the top-48 RBs
14. Josh Jacobs was heavily utilized by Las Vegas in 2020. He had the 3rd most carries, 2nd most touches inside the red-zone and the 3rd most goal-line carries. Nevertheless, he was incredibly game-flow dependent. In seven Raider wins, he averaged 93 rush yards per game and 20.3 fantasy points per game. In eight Raider losses, he averaged 51 rush yards per game and 9.1 fantasy points per game
15. David Montgomery was another inconsistent “boom/bust” back. He had five games with 20+ fantasy points and five games with fewer than 10 fantasy points. Yet, he was the fantasy MVP for the playoffs (Weeks 14 – 16), scoring 23 pts, 28.7 pts, and 19.1 pts. Derrick Henry was the only other RB to score 20+ fantasy points twice in the playoffs.
16. D’Andre Swift (3) had more 20+ fantasy point games than Jonathan Taylor (2), Kareem Hunt (2), Miles Sanders (2), or Chris Carson (2). Swift is my early pick for my 2021 #MyGuy. In the seven games where he touched the ball more than ten times, he averaged 16.2 points per game and eclipsed 20 fantasy points three times. He had at least three receptions every week since Week 4. Swift was dominant when given an opportunity, despite playing on a poor Lions offense. Look for Swift to be a 2021 draft value, even if the offense loses major pieces like Stafford.
17. Kenyan Drake finished 24th in points per game (min 5 games) despite seeing the ninth most touches among all running backs. Drake was a huge fantasy disappointment after an incredible 2019 season finish. Drake was up and down throughout the season, but you never felt confident starting him. These kinds of players hurt you more than the stats show.
18. Rookie Jonathan Taylor was a slow burn. From Weeks 4-10, he was the RB39 in fantasy points per game (8.9), about the same as Rex Burkhead or Zack Moss. He finished on a tear with six top-15 finishes in a row including four inside the top-7. Taylor is one of only seven RBs with 1,100 rush yards, 10+ TDs, and over five yards per carry in their rookie season. He joins Saquon Barkley as the only one among that group with 35+ receptions.
19. James Robinson finished as the RB8 on a point per game basis (16.1). Robinson was an undrafted rookie who burst onto the scene and scorched the earth despite playing on a bottom-3 NFL offense. He was undrafted in the majority of fantasy leagues but delivered solid RB1 production throughout the season. He saw a league-leading 85% of the team’s RB opportunities. Robinson is the unquestioned best waiver wire pickup of the season among all position groups, and his actual NFL production deserves a lot of respect.
20. David Johnson (2) had fewer games sub-double-digit fantasy games than Derrick Henry (4). DJ, a former #footclan favorite, was a sneaky good RB2/RB3 this season. He scored 10+ fantasy points in all but two games. He also put up 18.8 fantasy points and 27.4 fantasy points in Weeks 15 & 16 of the fantasy playoffs.
21. The RB leaders in fantasy points per touch (min 100 touches) are Alvin Kamara (1.2), Nyheim Hines (1.1), J.K. Dobbins (1.0), D’Andre Swift (1.0), Jeff Wilson Jr. (1.0), Nick Chubb (1.0), Jerick McKinnon (1.0), and Chris Carson (1.0). Shoutout to 49ers FB Kyle Juszczyk for leading all backs with 2.0 fantasy points per touch this season (36 touches).
22. The RBs with the fewest fantasy points per touch (min 100 touches) are Frank Gore (0.5), Phillip Lindsay (0.5), Joshua Kelley (0.5), Benny Snell Jr. (0.6), Cam Akers (0.6), Damien Harris (0.6), Joe Mixon (0.6), and Devin Singletary (0.6).
23. Cam Akers is an early favorite for the 2021 season among The Fantasy Footballers. Akers had 15+ touches in five games in 2020. He scored fewer than nine points in three of those games and more than 15 points in the other two. In the postseason, Akers played in two games and averaged 24.5 touches for 136 yards and a touchdown, good enough for 21.4 fantasy points per game.
24. The 2020 RB leaders in yards per reception (min 20 rec) were David Johnson (9.5), Myles Gaskin (9.5), Alvin Kamara (9.1), Duke Johnson (8.9), Boston Scott (8.5), Jonathan Taylor (8.3), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (8.2), David Montgomery (8.1), and Kareem Hunt (8.0).
25. Sony Michel paced all Patriots running backs with 5.7 yards per carry on the season (79 attempts). Meanwhile, Rex Burkhead paced all Patriots running backs with six touchdowns. All in all, Patriots RBs were roster cloggers this season.
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